September 10

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Massive eBook: The Visual Toolbox, by David duChemin

By Dan

September 10, 2013

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I love the premise of David duChemin’s brand new 200-page eBook. It’s called The Visual Toolbox: 50 Lessons for Stronger Photographs. By his own description, it’s an imaginary curriculum for a photography course that he’s unlikely to every teach in person, mostly because he’s… well, kind of a nomad. The way he sees it, if you did one lesson per week, the course would last you an entire year, with two weeks off for vacation. 50 lessons.

If you were to look at the Table of Contents, you’d see that it reads very much like the standard photo curriculum that everyone teaches. After all, there’s only so many concepts that you can get across. Chapters include Learn to Sketch, Try it in Black and White, Shoot From the Heart, Front Light, Side Light, Back Light, Lines, Patterns, Horizons, Balance and Tension… Go ahead. Tell me that you haven’t seen this stuff in other books.

HOWEVER, it’s not what David teaches you, it’s how. David is indeed a modern day visionary who has extraordinary powers of inspiration. I’ve said it before, I have a total professional man crush on the guy, which I swear, has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I’ve now seen him in pink tutu. It’s because as a photographer who also gets excited about the success of other shooters, and who also helps to foster that roundtable of success, I’m constantly amazed at the brilliance of his words and imagery.

More than anything, David has the ability to remind us, or make us understand that what matters is the photographer’s ability to move the human heart. He teaches us stuff that we’ve all heard before, but he does it by arranging letters and words on the page in such a way that they plow right through all of our self-critical and judgmental roadblocks that get in the way of us fully exploring our passions, creativity and imagination. VTB_Spread-1

The thing about photography is that it has rules, but they’re all meant to be bent, twisted, cracked, torn, welded onto other rules and otherwise ripped apart from where they originated. However, before you go tearing them from the page and transforming them into you own style, you’ve got to understand the fundamentals of how they work and why they’re even there in the first place.

The best way to understand how any of this works is to see image examples that excite you and speak to you in some way, but are also presented in such a way that offer you something other than the WOW factor. In going through The Visual Toolbox, I see page after page of photographs that represent honest journeys into creativity and experimentation. He doesn’t just give you the goods, he takes you by the hand, leads you through the valley of photography shadows and past the garden of creativity and guides you forward so that you can take the steps under you own power.

I realize this just sounds like I secretly want to hold hands with David duChemin, and that may very well be true, but this is not about me, it’s about David and his new book. The Visual Toolbox is filled with the lessons that you need to know in order to be a better photographer, and assignments for each lesson that give you clear pathways to exploring the language of your own photographic journey.

Not only is it well worth having on your virtual eShelf, I think that it’s worth the investment in having someone like David around in our photography world. We need him and the way to keep getting him is to support his efforts.

You can download The Visual Toolbox here.

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About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 20+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.


As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.


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Terry Bourk

I have read you new book “Behind the Landscape.” I could not “put it down” meaning that I kept at it because each photo you presented/analyzed was interesting and informative. I am trying to develop an eye for composition (both the scene and the light).

Thank you! The examples you present and the suggestions are very helpful. Purple Mountains, McKinley River and Wonder Lake are fascinating.


Roger Sinclair

You have done it again! Another triumph.

Your generosity to share, the clarity of thought and concise explanation thereof is brilliant. Perhaps I should also mention the beautiful photos and the talent necessary to produce them.

Thank you, Dan.